Anticipation was high this cold night in Palmy, as I made my way through the bare streets of our forsaken city. The crap music was already pumping out of the meat markets, but the sluts were yet to put on their alcohol blankets and remove most of their clothes, intelligence and sense of dignity.
Had a chat to fellow Levin ex-pat Andy the drummer from Cephalopod on the door. He’s always a good guy to talk to. He’s always friendly, and from working at the local Rockshop and knowing most of the people in the local scene, his finger is always on the pulse. I was excited to see Cephalopod perform later. So was my companion, who I was asked to go collect after the first band ended, and she finished her game of Guitar Hero at home.
The crowd didn’t seem much, but it didn’t matter. It was an early gig. And I wasn’t here for the crowd tonight, I was here to see Kasium. No doubt the floor would fill by the last act, when those drinking at home finally made it.
For a band from Levin, I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the performance from Jonlo Rain. I heard word that it was their first gig. You wouldn’t have known. They’ll pulled it off as if they’d been doing this for years. The heavy and fast of their music was held together by the amazing shredding and arpeggiation of the guitarist, who looked a lot like Metallica’s Trejelo. Did I mention the shredding and arpeggiation were constant? His fingers, all fifty of them, spidered their way along the fret board for the entire duration of each song. Of every song. It was too early to get the whole crowd moving, but the smiles on their faces and blown back hair said they appreciated it.
Met Kieran and Chris at the back of the bar while waiting for Cephalopod. So strange to meet someone I’ve been reviewing on the Muzic.net.nz site in person. America, with its big name celebrities separated from the common people forms in the mind some sort of barrier that keeps you away from performers, artists, actors. It’s so easy to forget how accessible celebrities are in a place like New Zealand.
They seemed like nice enough guys, not the kind of thing you expect from a grunge / rock / metal / alternative band. In his pre-show red T-Shirt Kieran was the brightest dressed person in the pub. I tried to introduce my companion, but she was unnaturally quiet. Perhaps quietly considering me a starfucker for my excitement in meeting two thirds of this band I’d come to admire.
Though I’d seen it before, my companion was quite taken aback by the contrast of Elise’s meek, feminine voice when announcing Cephalopod and her deathly screams of agony during the songs. Andy was transformed from the nice guy at the front door to a heavy hitting drum machine. I wondered if his glasses had ever flown off mid blast. The Kasium boys started their pre-show warm up stretches during the act and at some point disappeared. I was asked to join, but something about the unspoken starfucker comment from my companion told me I should stay out in the sparse crowd with her.
Slid through the forest of outstretched handles of beer to get to the front for Kasium. Discovered I wasn’t the biggest fan in the room. There was guy in a Kasium top almost on the stage and baying for blood before the band had even begun. He was fun to watch throughout the set. A one man mosh pit, dancing, swearing, finger pulling. He was joined mid show by someone just as drunk, but not as enthusiastic about the music. All was going well, the two formed a bond of sorts, until this other drunk returned from the smokers area with a lit smoke and misinterpreted the fan’s moshing an the incitement of a fight. He was quickly removed by an on to it bouncer. How I love this city…
The Kasium set was everything you’d expect from a nineties grunge show. Kieran’s red shirt was gone and replaced by a Billy Corgan circa-Meloncollie Zero T-shirts. It was a set full of angry strums, rockstar crooning, well beaten drums and all the appropriate poses you’d expect from a nineties band. We were pushed up to the speaker for the most part so unable to make out the lyrics until out ear drums burst, but I didn’t care. Pretty sure my head was nodding and my foot was tapping, the extent of my dance move repertoire. It was great to hear live versions of the songs I’d been listening to on repeat for the past week.
I’ve already harped on about the difference between Live and Studio music. I forgot to mention how you can feel the bass humming at the base of your spine and the drums reverberating in the hollow spaces of your skill. You appreciate more the staggered quiet bits between the beating of heavy chords. The introspective melancholy gives your neck, ankle and internal organs time to recuperate. The drunken fan time to breath. The shoegazer some new feeling to write in their diary.
My companion, only a few weeks ago giving birth, was enjoying the set less. The whole show even. I made her stay to the end before shuffling out as the dance floor got packed to heavy rock and roll with a swamp metal twist and the sight of the singer of the next band wearing a hangman’s mask backwards and still managing to sing.
A good show. Recommend all the bands if you get the chance to see them live. If you haven’t seen or heard of Cephalopod yet, look them up. It gives you shivers to see such the small Elise belt out such powerful screams. Wish there’d been a better turn out, but what can you do. Seems the metal head / rocker aesthetic is dying out. And we’re in Palmy. Though apparently Auckland is no better, according to Kieran and Chris in an after show chat. Auckland’s problem is the size and transport. Palmy’s problem is Palmy.
Kasium is Kieran Cooper, Chris Birch & Paul Braddock playing a unique brand of post-grunge-alternative-rock. Formed in 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand, the 3 piece have written and recorded their debut EP 'Premonition' and produced a video for the track 'Drowned'. Currently working on a full length studio album with new material and an evolving sound. This has all been interspersed with numerous live shows for of a growing and appreciative audience